Knife Wielding Suspects


Suspects who are armed with blades are one of the most commonly contacted dangerous persons by LEOs in the US.  When confronted with suspects armed with blades, distance is the only way you survive and keep control of the situation.  If the suspect begins to move, you can and should stop them, stand in their path and keep them from moving towards innocent citizens.  Once they begin to get mobile they immediately become a roving deadly force situation which can escalate quickly into the worst case scenario, as I have explained and mentioned repeatedly in one of my previous articles - Tactical De-escalation and the Worst Case Scenario.  This video is not that long, right under 4 minutes but its got a lot of seriously good info and gives a glimpse of issues which every LEO should understand exist, and every citizen should be informed about as it helps dissecting the events which occurred.  As of this article, the suspect was still alive but intubated at a local hospital.  If you want to watch LVMPD's official briefing, its 14 or so minutes long and gives some more info about the suspect and other things which do not have relevance for the tactical considerations I want to focus on.



0:06 - body cam officer shows he's taking off his seat belt and pulling up to the bus, you could see to the right the suspect running towards a female.  This type of thing happens very often as responding LEOs may not have the exact description of the suspect while speeding to an active scene.  Furthermore, this adds to the initial confusion which exists in these types of fast developing situations.
0:20 - A witness from the bus points towards the male who, at this point, was actually stabbing that female he was running at (twice), per the LVMPD official briefing. 
0:24 - One of the issues with body cameras, even the really nice Axon Flex versions the LVMPD officers are wearing is that sound is almost impossible to pick up outside from behind the officer if it is more than a few feet away, the same is not true for the sound in front of the body cam.  This is a serious limitation because I would bet that the officers did hear the woman scream before they turned around, it just did not "click" because they were on autopilot heat seeking mode looking for a target.
0:27 - Both officers run directly by the female victim and begin to yell commands at the armed suspect.  The female victim was not checked by either officer, which is a judgement call of sorts.  Yes the guy with the knife is more important because he's actively able to move around and may attack other people, but asking the female if he is OK or just taking a moment to look at her to make sure she does not need immediate medical attention is also something very doable.  Imagine a situation where the officers disregarded the victim in order to stop the suspect and the victim had an arterial bleed which could have been stopped via tourniquet but ended up being ignored?  What is more important at that very moment? Saving a life or stopping a dangerous person?  There are two officers on scene, that's a judgement call I'd say would have to be made at that very moment based on the circumstances presented.  This is important to consider, however, as victims need to be addressed as much as suspects.
0:34 - "Get on the ground now, put the knife down!"  The body cam officer yells commands and the armed suspect begins to run/jog forward.  His movement is deadly force as he roaming and searching for another victim.
0:41 - First time either officer gets on radio, that's almost 20 seconds of dead air time for responding officers who do not know where to go, what to do or how to respond.  Also the body cam officer is pointing his gun in the general direction of that white van, yes the van begins to back up getting out of the line of fine.  The officer should have made an angle change moved behind the armed suspect to allow for a better backdrop.
0:42 - Unsuccessful taser deployment by officer who is closest.
1:03 - Suspect has free reign to jog in any direction he wants to because taser officer begins to walk and body cam officer begins to look for his taser.  There are literally a dozen vehicles full of possible victims of the suspect just sitting there.  Yes they may have their doors locked, but they may also not be thinking and just one of them not having their doors locked would turn this into an instant worst case scenario.  The moment he began to walk into traffic the officers should have created a shootable backdrop through pushing forward in front of him and angling in on him to prevent him from entering a vehicle by any means necessary.  If the suspect is trying car doors it is already too late and the actions of the officers put the people in those vehicles in direct harms way.
1:14 - Armed suspect runs past vehicles and towards a shopping area across the street, immediate worst case scenario crisis averted due to suspect probably being under influence.
1:29 - Armed suspect stops and turns around, starts jog hopping in place.  What is he doing? He is trying to think about what he wants to do, he is starting to figure out that he isn't going to be shot unless he does something serious.  He is literally gaining in confidence as the video unfolds.
1:43 - Jeep bro shows up
1:52 - Jeep bro avoids getting stabbed to death because his doors are locked.  The moment he armed suspect went for the Jeep bro's door handle he should have been instantly shot.   He was not trying to get hitch a ride, he just stabbed two people and has been fleeing from the police for almost two minutes, it is reasonable and probable to believe that he would have stabbed the Jeep bro the moment he got inside. 
1:54 - But the doors are locked and the armed suspect beings to run/jog away. 
2:00 - Another LVMPD officer shows directly in front of the armed suspect.  The body cam officer yells "crossfire" which is exactly what that situation is.  Driving directly up to an armed suspect is inadvisable.
2:13 - Body cam officer realizes the responding officer probably cannot hear him, even after knife handing him several times, his use of the force was ineffective and the body cam officer begins to circle around the vehicle in an effort to L-shape the suspect who jumped onto the grassy divider to get away from the newly arrived officer.
2:21 - Newly arrived officer tries to grab the armed suspect.  This is a good example of what most LEO's go through when responding to an active situation in progress.  The two LEO's who have been following the suspect for 2 minutes now have started to calm down and think rationally, the newly arrived officer is still in "get em!" mode and will try to do something to stop the male, even if that means going hands on with an armed suspect who has already shown a desire to stab people.
2:26 - The newly arrived officer stands in front of the armed suspect and the suspect, again, jogs in place to try to figure out what he wants to do.  He begins to jog towards the sidewalk and he does so without any obstruction effort from the officers. 
2:51 - Armed suspect is just jogging forward on the sidewalk with his hoody up.  This is a good oppurtunity for one of the officers to try to trip him from the back or taser his legs up close.  You even hear sirens from an oncoming vehicle, block his path or just push him over, he already stabbed two people and needs to be stopped before he finds another victim and this becomes a worse situation than it has to be.
3:12 - Fourth officer shows up and starts to beanbag the armed suspect.
3:25 - Beanbag rounds ineffective, either due to backpack or the fact the armed suspect may be under the influence of a narcotic which is stopping him from feeling pain.  If you look at the area where the suspect is, you can see off to the top right of the screen that there is a roofed bus stop not a few feet away from the armed suspect.
3:32 - Both the beanbag officer and another officer run up and shoot the suspect several times.  The other officer shoots him several times with his duty pistol.  This should have happened about five or six steps before it happening due to the close proximity of the person inside the bus stop just hanging out.  That person was literally seconds from possible death from the armed suspect stopping his forward motion, grabbing him and holding him hostage or stabbing him to death. 
3:35 - Discharging officer holsters his pistol and walks away to tell police dispatch what happened.  This is not the right thing to do.  If you just shot someone you should continue to cover that shot suspect until they are in handcuffs because if that suspect reanimates and begins to go after the officers then another officer may need to discharge, which adds to the level of headaches already going to occur.  Furthermore, walking away from a threat you just shot is something which needs to be trained out of someone and in its place an immediate need for medical application installed.
3:40 - Beanbag officer yells "Come on out here" to the guy inside the bus stop.  Why was he even there in the first place and not paying attention to his surroundings?

The video ends and we do not see what happens medically, which is in my opinion an oversight on the part of the agency releasing the video.  Showing that the officers began to provide medical care to the shot armed suspect is extremely important, not just for educational value but because the public needs to see that the officers using force are not doing so out of anger or some sort of personal need to cause violence or death upon the general public. 

LEOs need to assess a rapidly moving situation and develop methods for mitigating a violent confrontation from an armed suspect with the general public.  This has to be done immediately and without hesitation by responding LEOs.  In this particular situation the responding LEOs had a few different moment where they could have discharged at the armed suspect based solely on the fact he had already stabbed people and was putting himself into a situation where he could potentially stab other people.  This needs to be stopped immediately upon approach.

As LEOs we have a duty to put ourselves in harms way when there are citizens potentially in harms way.  This means we have to put ourselves between an armed suspect and the general public whenever possible.  Yes, setting up a situation where the armed suspect is confronted between a rock and hard place is forcing their hand to act, but the fact is that LEOs are armed and have, not just the duty to act in these circumstances, but the responsibility to stop the deadly force threat by putting themselves in harms way.  This is how it is has to logically work and a police departments policies need to reflect that responsibility.  While these officers did their jobs well and used every possible precaution to allow the suspect to surrender, they also allowed the armed suspect to move around freely and create a possibility of an innocent person being killed.  That would have been the worst type of outcome of this situation which would have been 100% preventable, it is also the reason why this is a 100% good shoot because there was an innocent person is close proximity to the armed suspect.

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